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I noted last August that people seemed to be confused about how much carbon dioxide there was in the atmosphere. Some people thought that CO2 made up half of all the gasses in the atmosphere.

One of Jo Nova’s readers recently asked 100 people questions about the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, and came up with similar results.

The actual amount is about 380 parts per million. Or 0.038%. Or not quite four one hundredths of one percent.

Human contribution to this total is about 3%. No one knows for certain because there is no way of telling human produced CO2 from natural CO2.

In the past there have been much larger natural variations in CO2 levels without any human input.

For example, when many modern green plants developed in the Cretaceous period, CO2 was aprroximately three times its current level. Coral reefs evolved and thrived during the Mesozoic Period, when atmospheric CO2 levels stayed above 1,000 parts per million for 150 million years and exceeded 2,000 parts per million for several million years, compared with 380 ppm now. Any influence of human activity is minor compared with past natural changes.

But we know that human use of fossil fuels does contribute something to current CO2 levels. Calculations (necessarily very approximate) of the amount of CO2 produced by all human activity as a proportion of what we think we know at the moment of the normal natural carbon cycle, gives a figure of about 3%.

So the influence of human CO2 production on atmospheric gasses is about 0.038 x 3% = 0.00114%

Australia’s share of human produced CO2 is 1.5%.

So Australia’s share of the impact of human CO2 production on atmospheric gasses is 0.038 x 3% x 1.5% =  0.0000171%

The Greens/Gillard plan to tax CO2 is intended to increase prices and reduce production so that CO2 output is reduced by 5%.

So the anticipated change to atmospheric gas composition if this plan is successful is 0.038% x 3% x 1.5% x 5%, or 0.000000855%

Australia’s Carbon Tax will change atmospheric gas composition by less than one molecule in 100 million.

Even on the most exuberant alarmist guesses about the impact of CO2 on climate change, the impact of Australia’s Carbon Tax on climate change will be zero. Nothing.

Just to be clear, the only way a CO2 tax can reduce CO2 output is by making corporations and people change their behaviour. It does this by increasing the cost of energy so that energy usage is reduced.

Increasing the cost of energy means more expensive production and therefore reduced production. It means travel and transport are more expensive. This means everything from food to electricity to sleeping bags to tractors, will cost more.

The cost to selected major corporations is already estimated to be over $10 billion. These costs will be passed on to ordinary Australians in the form of price increases. When other companies and costs are factored in, it is likely that the total cost of the Carbon Tax will be well over $25 billion per year.

This is about $1,250 for every Australian. Or $5,000 for every household. To achieve nothing.

Again, $100 per week cost to the average household, to achieve nothing.

Human CO2 production is growing at approximately 3% per year. Australia’s CO2 output is 1.5% of the total. Even if Australia instantly stopped all CO2 output – that is, if we stopped producing anything, driving anywhere, turned off every appliance and all the lights and stopped breathing – the world would have caught up in just six months time.

An Australian Carbon Tax will have no impact on climate whatever.

The only possible reality based argument for the introduction of a carbon tax in Australia is that of leadership. For this argument to hold water, you have to believe the following things:

  • The world is getting warmer at an alarming rate.
  • This warming is caused by human activity, specifically human production of CO2.
  • Reducing CO2 output to pre-industrial levels will stop the warming.
  • Less costly mitigation or preparation for climate changes will not work. The warming must be stopped.
  • Failure to act will be disastrous.
  • If Australia takes the first step, even if it substantially reduces our standard of living, other nations will follow.
  • When the whole world acts, the world will be saved.

If even one of those points is refuted, the whole argument fails.

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